By Tiffany Arcaris and Mark Deterline —
Tiffany Arcaris is a force of nature. I met her through friends who had emphasized that she loved running. She had a down-to-earth nature, and I could tell that she took pride in being and having fun, and seeking to do things that were out of the ordinary with likeminded friends.
A week or so after that evening out with friends, she asked me if I wanted to go trail running. I had officially ended my elite amateur bike racing “career” about 18 months earlier, and was enjoying catching up on other interests and hobbies, including things that allowed me to be lazily sedentary for a change. “I think you’d kick my butt,” I said, hoping she’d let it go until I could secretly get in some much overdo training. But she kindly would have none of it, “I’ll go easy on you.”
She stopped a few times along the first (to me) hilly mile, but then we both figured it would be in everyone’s best interest if she charged on, flying up to The Living Room lookout point above Red Butte Gardens and the University of Utah. And seriously, I’ve run with her a few times now on hilly and mountainous trails, and she just powers up ridiculously steep trail, making me feel like I’m standing still.
After racing at a high amateur level for 15 years, I had enjoyed not exercising for several months. Tiffany changed all that; now I was the out-of-shape friend desperately needing someone to push me.
She inspired me to whip myself back into shape, because after all, for much of my life I have talked the talk, but it was time to walk the walk again. About a month later, I ran my longest trail run to that point: 11 super-windy and grueling miles in spectacular Moab. It was more than I was ready for, but I did it and it felt great. I was back on track, feeling good and having fun.
Often it takes a special person and friend in our lives to set us on, or back on, a course that can greatly benefit us. In my case, I was quickly impressed by Tiffany’s resoluteness in doing everything she can as well as she can. She loves her job and enjoys doing it well. She values earning a living that affords her, her son and her mom an enjoyable lifestyle, enabling her to integrate into her life an intense passion for trail running and strength training in the gym. That’s good stuff; that’s something we can all work to emulate in our lives, regardless our chosen sport(s).
With the above as an intro and a little background, I’ll let “tiffsmooth” (that’s her Instagram handle) share some thoughts on her running experience:
For most of my life, I never classified myself as a runner. I’ve always been athletic and involved in sports, but didn’t really get into running until my late twenties. A good friend asked me to do a charity race for a great cause, so how could I say no; I’m a sucker for being there for friends. That was my first 5k, in ice and snow…springtime in Utah. It was tough. I was shocked how hard three miles seemed. I’m more fit than that, I thought, and was bothered when others passed me. Yeah, I’m slightly competitive…
So, the next week I was asked to do a 10k, of course I said yes, and amazingly improved my time by 40 seconds per mile. (That race was also in the rain.) I immediately realized that running isn’t so much a physical test, but more a test of mental strength.
There are many instances in which I dislike portions of my run, or struggle to mentally get into it. But I’m always satisfied when I achieve my goal, and am proud that I’ve pushed through the moments of mental weakness. Truly, self-doubt is the biggest obstacle in anything you do; you’d be amazed by the power of your thoughts.
My running has transformed over the years from just doing certain races for the satisfaction of knowing I’ve completed the distance, to having fun doing relays and enjoying the amazing team experience. During one relay I discovered my love for trails, and it was all downhill or uphill from there!
Last year was my year of trail races. Not having many running friends up to doing trails, I did the majority of those races alone. Each race was incredibly intimidating and involved summiting a peak, which was very new to me. I enjoy the challenge and have gained great respect for trail runners; they are some of the most athletic people I’ve met.
Sure, there are a lot of social aspects to it, which I love and adore. The people I’ve met and have grown to love through the joint adoration of running truly amazes me. My ULAS (Utah Lady Adventure Seekers) are the most genuine and supportive group of friends, always up to do a Sunday run, or take road trips to odd and beautiful places just to play on a new trail.
The running community in Salt Lake is so awesome. Recently, I was fortunate to connect with a group I’ve deemed as my ICP (Insane Clown Posse). These badasses have gotten me back into waking up before dawn for not only a run, but for wild adventures in our beautiful backyard — the Wasatch Mountains.
Climbing ridiculous vertical before most are out of bed is oddly gratifying. Seeing the sun rise and laughing with people that just “get life,” well that’s why I now run. We challenge each other, we support one another, we tease, and we take awesome photos. It’s fulfilling more than words can say.
The experiences are always phenomenal and challenging, the views always breathtaking, and above all it makes me appreciate all that I am capable of when I put my mind and energy into something.